Sarah Hauck’s “Checking Out” is set in a hotel, which allows the playwright to have a bit of fun with her title.
“Of course, there’s checking out, as you would at a hotel,” Hauck said. “But there’s also checking out, like you’re looking someone over. So it’s a double-entendre.”
The Lansing Civic Players production unfolds inside The Lonely Pelican, located in fictitious Pepsicola, Fla., where manager George (Rick Wendorf) and his daughter, Karin (Brittney Benjamin), have to face their own reservations about life.
“Basically, the story is about the idea that everybody deserves love,” Hauck said. “All of my plays seem to deal with love. The characters are coming to terms with themselves and with each other.”
Hauck, 41, has been a playwright since she was in college. “I’ve written a bunch,” she says. “Some will never see the light of day, but I am hoping more of my plays will get produced locally.”
Hauck is particularly proud of the diversity in the “Checking Out” cast.
“The characters range from 12 to upward of 60, and there are six women and six men, with several different nationalities represented,” she said. “There’s an Arabic girl, Latina staff, a Creole woman. I thought it would be fun to have a play with a lot of different kinds of characters that have a lot to say from different viewpoints.”
While Hauck is also a performer — she appeared last month in Holt-Dimondale Players’ “Company” — she says as much as she enjoys acting, she feels her real talent is writing.
“They say write what you know, and I would say of all these characters each of them has piece of me in them. I try not to base characters on real people. There’s a joke: ‘Be careful — or you’ll end up in my play.’ But I don’t do that: I don’t like to put other people’s business out there. But there’s a lot that’s happened to me that’s reflected in this play.”
Lansing Civic Players
Curry Street Theatre
6025 Curry Lane,
8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
$10 Thursdays ($8 students and seniors); $14 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; $12 seniors and students
‘Letīs Murder Marsha’
With a title like “Let’s Murder Marsha,” you might expect some potentially gruesome goings-on. But let Starlight Dinner Theatre artistic director Linda Granger set your mind at rest.
“No one gets murdered in the show,” she says. “Some people have felt they donīt want to go to a show and see someone murdered — and itīs not a whodunit. Itīs a farce with a lot of twists and turns and surprises.”
Not to mention misunderstandings. Voracious reader Marsha Gilmore (Sarah Sonnenberg) can’t get enough of killer thrillers — until she overhears talk that convinces her that her husband (Bob Purosky) and a supposed mistress (Michele Booher) are planning to close the book on her.
“Marsha” co-stars Angela Dill, Jason Carlen, Carol Ferris and Bob Murrell under the direction of Susan Chmurynsky, who’s directing at Starlight for the first time.
“It’s definitely goofy,” Chmurynsky said of Jack Sharkey’s script. “It reminds me of an ‘I Love Lucy’ show, the one where she’s reading a mystery and thinks Ricky’s trying to kill her.”
But while Chmurynsky wants to keep the comedy lively and loony, she also insists the actors don’t go over the top.
“My philosophy is that it has to play like it’s real. So we’ve got a lot of backstory going on. We figured out who met where and what their parents are like — all that. I think that’s the secret to good farce. I just don’t want to see people acting, and I definitely don’t want to see people saying, ‘I’m so funny: Wink, wink!”
Chmurynsky says her actors have been working to keep up the brisk pace — “I want to make sure people who’ve had good meal don’t fall asleep, so we have to keep this show moving along” — and to jell as an ensemble.
“Some shows, you have a prima donna in the bunch,” Chmurynsky said. “Not this one: There are no divas in the bunch — except me.”
‘Let’s Murder Marsha’
Starlight Dinner Theatre
Waverly East Intermediate School
3131 W. Michigan Ave., Lansing
Dinner at 6:30 p.m. (reservations required 48 hours in advance); show at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
$33 show and dinner; $28 seniors and students; $20 children 12 and under
$15 show only; $10 children 12 and under, show only
īThe Tale of Snow Whiteī
Attention, trend-spotters: “Snow White” is red-hot this season.
The Magic Mirror’s favorite beauty returns to cinemas on March 30 in “Mirror Mirror,” with Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane and Armie Hammer, and again on June 1 in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” with Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Ian McShane and Chris Hemsworth.
But if you can’t wait that long, there’s Mid Michigan Family Theatre’s “The Tale of Snow White,” opening Friday.
“We’re beating the rush on it a little bit,” says director Bill Gordon, chuckling.
This adaptation puts a comic spin on the Brothers Grimm, adding characters you may not remember from the original story, including limerick-loving ladies-in-waiting and a Department of Natural Resources agent who advocates responsible use of the forest.
“It’s a fun version,” Gordon says. “I think everybody knows the story, so to tell it like it is, that’s probably not worth spending any time on it. With a new angle, it makes it more interesting for the actors and the audience.”
Gordon found the script after perusing almost a dozen other “Snow White” plays. “This one seemed to have what we were looking for: a large cast and a different slant on the story.”
Although Snow White and the Evil Queen are still the headliners, this version also had roles that boys might be interested in tackling.
“They want to play the dwarves and the prince and the huntsman,” Gordon said. “They shy away from stuff like ‘Cinderella,’ because that’s more romantic.”
He speaks from experience: “We did ‘The 12 Dancing Princesses’ a while ago, and there was not a boy to found in the vicinity of Frandor.”
‘The Tale of Snow White’
Mid Michigan Family Theatre
7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays;
3 p.m. Sundays
440 Frandor Ave., Lansing
$6; $4 for pre-schoolers